North vs South
This weekend looms as another cracker challenge, both on the field and off the field of which hemisphere plays the better rugby.
From Oceania we have the 2 heavyweights the Wallabies and the All Blacks, both are rated highly in the global game, but both are nursing serious hangovers after the disaster of the 2007 RWC in this part of the world a little over a year ago.
This weekend offers a genuine chance to relieve some pain and sets up rivalries and fantastic arm wrestle battles to see who will win. Starting to look at match up one we have England vs Australia. In recent times the English have been branded as playing boring and forgettable rugby since their 2003 pinnacle. In the 2007 RWC they obviously went on a meditation retreat or found some freaky new motivation guru as they stormed back to form and made the final.
On this RWC crusade they rattled, shoved and dominated their way over the Wallabies in the quarterfinals. In doing so they turned the formbook on its head and took another boost against Australia, the odds now must have the might of England as favourites at their beloved Twickenham fortress this time.
Now in a year a lot can happen and it surely has for the Wallabies. The biggest side step has been securing a Kiwi as head coach, Mr Robbie Deans has jumped in with vigor and his rebuild and re develop mission has a slick motivated bunch of Wallabies playing as 1. Their expansive game, patience and instinctual play is coming to the fore and each test match they look more and more dangerous. Along the way Mr Deans is making better men out of previously overlooked ones, Peter Hynes is the ultimate testament to this.
If this match up was not mouth watering enough, we get to see the All Blacks vs Ireland. Both these boys had shockers to say the least in the 07 RWC too and will be ready to unleash new directions. In 102 years Ireland have never beaten the men in black, 1 draw in the 70s is as good as it has got so far. Earlier this year they came down under and gave the AB’s a serious run for their money in arctic Wellington conditions and again just came up short losing 21-11.
This encounter has spice thrown all over it and it is this stuff a proud and lets face it fiery bunch of Irishmen could just thrive on. If the luck of the Irish is to strike then this weekend is it, without doubt this is their moment of chance. For starters their hero Brian O'Driscoll earns his 50th test as captain. More Irish magic comes as it is the 30th anniversary of the Munsters famous mid week victory over the 1978 AB’s.
With an occasion so right the last piece is that the test will be played at Croke Park in front of 82,000 manic people. This ground is hallowed turf to the Gaelic Athletic Association's (GAA) and has been loaned out as Lansdowne gets a re build. In 1978 when Munster stunned the world there were 12,000 people watching, in stories today 100, 000 claim to have been at the match & All Black winger Stu Wilson said it sounded that way to him being part of the loosing side. If history is made this time this ratio suggests 800, 000 will be sharing the ultimate Irish story!